1 Corinthians xii.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. Concerning spiritual things. In the apostle’s time, the Christians in the sacraments of baptism and confirmation, many times received those graces and gifts of the Holy Ghost, by which some of them prophesied, others wrought miracles, and cured diseases, others spoke tongues, and different languages: now some among the Corinthians made not a right use of these gifts, especially they who had the gift of tongues, and made use of it through vanity, rather than for the profit of others. (Witham)

Ver. 2. You went to dumb idols. He speaks to the Gentiles before their conversion, to put them in mind, how much happier they are by receiving the faith of Christ, and such graces and favours from God. (Witham)

Ver. 3. No man, speaking by the Spirit of God, &c. He tells them, if they see a person moved in an extraordinary manner, and say anathema, curse, or speak ill of Jesus, such an one cannot be moved by a good spirit. And no man can say, the Lord Jesus, that is, praise Christ as he ought, but by a good spirit. (Witham)

Ver. 4-7. There are diversities of graces. Literally, divisions of graces; but all from the same spirit, from the same Lord, from the same God: and all these gifts are designed, and to be made use of for the profit of the faithful. (Witham) — St. Justin Martyr, St. Irenĉus, and Origen bear testimony, that these special gifts of the Holy Ghost were not unusual in their time. St. Paul, in order to curb the vanity of such as seemed to be a little puffed up with the gifts they had received, and likewise to comfort those who had received no such spiritual and extraordinary favours, wishes to teach both parties, that the same Holy Spirit distributes these graces according as t hey are more conducive to the welfare of his Church, and the glory of God. (Calmet)

Ver. 8, &c. Word of wisdom, which differs from that of knowledge, inasmuch as wisdom is a more eminent and sublime knowledge. These are numbered among the gifts of the Holy Ghost. (Isaias, chap. xi.) — To another faith, by which, says St. Chrysostom,[1] is not here meant a belief of revealed truths, but an humble confidence of working miracles, grounded on faith, and on the power and goodness of God. — The same Spirit worketh, dividing to every one according as he will; by which words, they that valued themselves on the gifts of prophesying, and speaking tongues, are put in mind, that all these were purely the gifts of God, to whom alone the honour is due. (Witham)

Ver. 12. &c. As the body is one, &c. From this comparison of the mystical body of Christ, that is, of his Church, to a man’s natural body, he brings excellent instructions. 1. That as all members and parts, make up the same body, so also is Christ; that is, so it is in the Church of Christ, which is his mystical body. 2. As all the parts of man’s body are enlivened by the same soul, so all in the Church have their life from the same Spirit of God in baptism, and in the sacraments instituted by our Saviour, Christ; in which we are made to drink of the same spirit. 3. As all the members, that have such different offices and functions, do but constitute one complete body, so is it in the Church of Christ. 4. As those that seem the less considerable parts of the human body, are no less necessary for the subsistence and harmony of the whole, and stand in need of one another, (for example, the head stands in need of the feet) so in the Church, &c. 5. He takes notice, that in a natural body, the less honourable, the baser, and as they are called, the uncomely parts, are clothed with greater care and decency, Literally, have a more abundant honour bestowed upon them, so in the mystical body, no less, but even a greater care is to be taken of the weaker, and more infirm members, of the poor, the weak, the ignorant; and in the spirit of charity and love, that there may be no divisions or schisms, but a brotherly union: that if one suffer, another compassionate and assist him, &c. (Witham)

Ver. 15. If the foot, &c. By this comparison St. Paul teaches the Corinthians, that as all cannot exercise the same functions in the Church, so no one should be envious of his brother; but that by their mutual charity, co-operation, union of hearts, and faith, they should compose one body, of which Christ is the head. (Calmet)

Ver. 24. Cicero, in his 1st liber de Off. speaking of the human body, says, Natura quĉ formam nostram atque figuram, in qua esset species honesta, eam posuit in promptu; quĉ partes autem corporis ad naturĉ necessitatem datĉ, aspectum essent deformem habiturĉ atque turpem, eas contexit atque abdidit. (Calmet)

Ver. 27. Members of member.[2] The sense seems to be, you are members of the particular Church of Corinth, which is only a part or member of the whole body of the Christian Catholic Church. This is agreeable to the common reading in the Greek, where it is said, you are members of a part. See St. Chrysostom, hom. xxxii. (Witham)

Ver. 28. First apostles, &c. Here he sets down these gifts or graces in their order of dignity. 1. The apostles, blessed above others with all kinds of graces. 2. Prophets, who had the gift of interpreting of prophecies, and of knowing things to come. 3. Doctors, or teachers of the gospel, preferred before those who had the gift of miracles, or of healing the infirm, and before the gifts of tongues, which they valued and esteemed so much, which he reckons in a manner in the last place, except that of interpreting, which is wanting in the present Greek copies. But as interpreting is found in all the Greek manuscripts (ver. 30.) we have reason to prefer the reading of the Latin Vulgate. (Witham)

Ver. 31. Be zealous for the better gifts: which are to be more or less esteemed, as they are accompanied with charity, as he is going to shew in the next chapter. (Witham)


[1] Ver. 9. Fides, pistis, upon which word St. Chrysostom, om. kth. p. 433. pistin ou tauten legon, ten ton dogmaton, alla ten semeion.

[2] Ver. 27. Et membra de membro. Some Greek copies, kai mele ek melous, but in most Greek manuscripts, kai mele ek merous. St. Chrysostom, om. kb. p. 448. e ekklesia e par emin, meros esti tes pantachou keimenes ekklesias.

Bible Text & Cross-references:

Of the diversity of spiritual gifts. The members of the mystical body, like those of the natural body, must mutually cherish one another.

1 Now concerning spiritual things, brethren, I would not have you to be ignorant.

2 You know that, when you were heathens, you went to dumb idols, according as you were led.

3 Wherefore I give you to understand, *that no man, speaking by the Spirit of God, saith anathema to Jesus. And no man can say, the Lord Jesus, but by the Holy Ghost.

4 Now there are diversities of graces, but the same Spirit:

5 And there are diversities of ministries, but the same Lord.

6 And there are diversities of operations, but the same God, who worketh all in all.

7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man unto profit.

8 To one indeed, by the Spirit, is given the word of wisdom: and to another, the word of knowledge, according to the same Spirit.

9 To another, faith in the same Spirit: to another, the grace of healing in one Spirit:

10 To another, the working of miracles: to another, prophecy: to another, the discerning of spirits: to another, divers kinds of tongues: to another, interpretation of speeches.

11 *But all these things one and the same Spirit worketh, dividing to every one according as he will.

12 For as the body is one, and hath many members: and all the members of the body, whereas they are many, yet are one body: so also is Christ.

13 For in one Spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether bond or free: and in one Spirit we have all been made to drink.

14 For the body also is not one member, but many.

15 If the foot should say, because I am not the hand, I am not of the body: is it, therefore, not of the body?

16 And if the ear should say, because I am not the eye, I am not of the body: is it, therefore, not of the body?

17 If the whole body were the eye: where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing: where would be the smelling?

18 But now God hath set the members, every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.

19 And if they all were one member, where would be the body?

20 But now there are many members, indeed, yet one body.

21 And the eye cannot say to the hand: I need not thy help: nor again the head to the feet: I have no need of you.

22 Yea, much more those that seem to be the more feeble members of the body, are more necessary:

23 And such as we think to be the less honourable members of the body, upon these we bestow more abundant honour: and those that are our uncomely parts, have more abundant comeliness.

24 But our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, giving the more abundant honour to that which wanted it,

25 That there might be no schism in the body; but the members might be mutually careful one for another.

26 And if one member suffer any thing, all the members suffer with it: or if one member glory, all the members rejoice with it.

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members of member.

28 *And God indeed hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles; then the graces of healing, helps, governments, kinds of tongues, interpretations of speeches.

29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers?

30 Are all workers of miracles? Have all the grace of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?

31 But be zealous for the better gifts. And I shew to you a yet more excellent way.



3: Mark ix. 38.

11: Romans xii. 3. and 6.; Ephesians iv. 7.

28: Ephesians iv. 11.